I love playing jank. For those who aren’t familiar with the term in gaming, jank is something that uses out of the box thinking to form a creative and unexpected solution to a given problem, or to form a creative and unexpected problem. Playing in such a way helps break the monotony and lets you explore new possibilities that could potentially turn into primary strategies down the road.
With this in mind I decided to jank it up last night for gaming night. I put my usual casters on the shelf and instead pulled out this:
List 1: (Heavy metal)
List 2: (Heavy metal)
I was actually most interested in Kraye. With his new CID rules now being official I had about a dozen lists in mind that I wanted to try out. At the same time 10 point hunters are now a thing and I wanted to see how they would do with Caine2. My mind was full of ideas of the various things I could face, and the tricks these lists to use. In short I was excited, which is saying something since I’ve been a bit uninterested in playing lately while we all wait for the theme dump next week.
Ok, lets see what this jank can do!!!
Game 1 (Scenario: Recon2)
We randomize pairings and it turns out I’m against my brother, and right away I’m regretting letting my inner jank out. My brother is a Cryx player who is currently doing very well with Dene1 Ghost Fleet and Scaverous Dark Host. Normally I would have my Siege lists which is carefully designed to pick apart these, but he’s not in my pairing today… My Kraye list really has no play into either of those lists so I have to see if Caine2 can shoot his way out of it, and my brother drops Ghost Fleet.
To be fair Caine2 does have a lot of answers to Ghost Fleet problems, but he can only do so much and needs to be VERY careful to not get assassinated. Man I wish Trick Shots were still free…
Cryx goes first and runs up. I give Caine2 Heightened Reflexes (to avoid being Scourged) and give a Defender magical attacks and take a chunk out of the Wraith Engine. Then Cryx jams hard while Dene1 stays out of Caine2’s threat range. I’m now left with a lot of things Caine2 can shoot, but it’s just not enough, and at the same time scenario is a real problem. I pop feat, shoot what I can, give the Defender magical attacks to try and kill the Wraith Engine blocking a zone, dice fail me (miss three out of four attacks needing 5s to hit), and he ends up scoring 2 points on my turn, and then only needs to destroy my objective to win on his turn. Ouch…
Ok so dice played a part, but we talked about it after and had I killed the Wraith Engine and contested the zone he still would have gone up to 4 on his turn and likely won on scenario the following turn, plus he even had a reasonable shot at killing Caine2 that turn as well. Like I said, Caine2 can shoot a lot, but when you’re threated with 4 units, two jacks, and a battle engine, there is only so much you can do.
But it’s ok, I just need to get up and try again.
Game 2 (Scenario: Standoff)
This time I was randomized to our Skorne player, and he’s actually disappointed because he has a list he designed to beat my Cygnar lightning and shooting lists and still won’t have the chance to test it. It’s a Zaadesh2 list with 3 Sentries, Bronzeback, Gladiator, 2 baby elephants, Krea, Siege Animantarax, and pain givers. Although Caine2 wouldn’t be a good drop into it, I think my Kraye list has a chance against it if I can carefully take out the heavies systematically which focusing on scenario (although having no units will make it hard to score on the two circles).
I go first, put Admonition on one Stormclad and Arcane Shield on the other, and rush up the board by trampling and then repositioning up another 5 (jank!). Zaadesh hands out Rush, casts the counter charge spell, baby starts crying, and everything moves up the board using terrain and some clouds to limit my line of sight to him. Now he didn’t feat so I think about feating and sending in the two stormclads, but I’ve seen others take the fight to him and fail due to counter charges and the resiliency of his high armor, so instead I play it safe and hold back while taking a few pot shots at the battle engine. He then moves up, with Ornery up on all the Sentries, counter charge spell, crying baby, and feat. His battle engine (who now have Inviolable Resolve) also comes up to my arcane shield stormclad and does some significant damage.
Ok, lets take a moment to understand I have him exactly where I want him. Battle engine is in my face so I can remove it, and I’ve drawn the titans into a form of Hot Gates where two Sentries are in a gap between a large forest and an obstruction, so I can focus on them without too much interference from the other elephants. Time to kick some ass!
I load up my jacks and send them to work. The Siege Animantarax is effectively armor 24 to the stormclad is at dice -5 (hmmm this isn’t good), I do minimal damage and then send in a Centurion who promptly gets a Defensive Strike due to the feat and the Centurion is promptly knocked down and put on his ass. It’s at this point I take about 5 minutes to realize how royally screwed I am and appreciate the true nature of what I’m up against. Even if the Cenurion wouldn’t have been knocked down, I still would be at dice -6! Kraye feats and shoots the Sentries to Flare/Beacon them, and I send a Defender into the two Sentries to draw out the Defensive Strikes and Ornery Attacks, and then send in the other stormclad. However since the Sentry is effectively armor 23, I’m at dice -4 and don’t do much damage. I do some more positioning, but in summary I kill NOTHING on my feat turn, he scores on my turn due to the battle engine contesting my zone, and his elephants have an evil murderous look in their eyes. On his turn he destroys a stormclad, both defenders, and a Centurion, then scores again to make it 2-0. Realizing I have almost no chance of winning, Kraye tries for a desperate Stranglehold assassination on Zaadesh2, which fails horribly, and he goes to 3-0. He then kills everything other than Kraye, including my objective, and wins on scenario.
Wow, what a beat down. I knew this list was out there hunting me, and normally I have a Stryker2 list with 8 heavies to face list like it, but since it was jank day all I had was Kraye. Again, I thought Kraye had a chance, and maybe if played better I would have done better, but at the end of the day I had a list that has a hard time cracking his high armor and is very susceptible to his tech (you could see it in his eyes he was just waiting for me to repo or admonition and give him a free counter charge).
So what did we learn from this? Jank can be fun, but you have to be prepared to lose hard. The actual definition of jank is the real world is “of extremely poor or unreliable quality” and you can see why. Warmachine jank is typically based around gimmicks and gotchas which experienced players will see through, and likely won’t have the answers you need to counter the problems posed by the top tournament lists. Also typically the person playing the jank doesn’t have much table top experience with the list, and will make mistakes. The result is having to accept that you will be utterly crushed by high level players running top lists, and lists that you simply aren’t designed to deal with.
Yesterday my head was full of the possibilities of the new Kraye, and I was making list after list. Today all I can think about what the top players are playing in my area, and my standard lists that I will NEED to drop in order to stand a chance to defeat them.
The jank has been beaten out of me…